As the Trinity term draws to a close (the UKSC will hear its last case until 1 October 2010 on 28 and 29 July 2010), reflections on the success of its first year have already begun.

The Lawyer today considers how far the UKSC has actually resulted in a change for the UK judicial system.  Quoting Lord Neuberger (“the danger is you muck around with a constitution at your peril, because you don’t know what the consequences of any change will be”) and Lord Phillips (the objective was to “make plain to this country that we have an independent Supreme Court that has nothing to do with parliament”), Katy Dowell concludes that the UKSC has “won some reluctant fans”.

She comments that a number of the old conservative traditions have been “done away with”, using the fact that practitioners are no longer required to stand outside the court and bow to members of the bench as they enter as an example of this.  She also observes that barristers are able to book their own rooms in the UKSC free of charge and that the users committee provides a forum where recommendations about the operation of the UKSC can be made.

Michael Fordham QC is quoted as saying that the UKSC has “precipitated some legal change” and that while there is “nothing monumentally constitutional yet…the Supreme Court Justices…[have] been bold and progressive in several of the cases so far”.

The article highlights the Office of Fair Trading v Barclays Bank & Ors, Norris v Government of United States of America and HJ (Iran) v Secretary of State for the Home Department as being the UKSC’s “big decisions” so far.  Our comments on these cases can be viewed here, here and here.